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As Minnesota Prepares to Go Smoke-free, New Photo Exhibit Shows Smokers' Journey Out of Addiction
The Freedom to Breathe Act of 2007 goes into effect on October 1

As Minnesota prepares to go smoke-free, three Minnesotans who personally struggled to go smoke-free are sharing their stories, from the time they started smoking to their state of physical and emotional well-being today. Their inspiring stories will be showcased in ClearWay Minnesota's new traveling photo essay exhibit debuting June 27 at the IDS Crystal Court in Minneapolis.

The exhibit celebrates the efforts of Minnesotans who used QUITPLAN(R) Services, ClearWay Minnesota's free, professional stop-smoking programs that have helped 10,674 Minnesotans quit and helped saved Minnesotans $24.3 million in health care costs(1).

"With the new smoke-free law going into effect, we wanted to create an environment that provides support to people quitting tobacco use," said David Willoughby, ClearWay Minnesota's Chief Executive Officer. "This photo essay illustrates the emotional, turbulent and triumphant journey that smokers go through as they attempt to quit, while offering inspiration and help to end tobacco use."

The Freedom to Breathe Act of 2007, a comprehensive state law prohibiting smoking in most workplaces, including restaurants and bars, goes into effect on October 1.

Those visiting the exhibit will also have an opportunity see how their own faces could become wrinkled and discolored if they smoked for years. ClearWay Minnesota will be providing free demonstrations of age-progression software for visitors to experience.

Three smokers' journeys

The featured participants, who used QUITPLAN Services to help them stop smoking, include:

       -- Robert Murphy: A former Twin Cities radio personality, he received        packages containing free cigarettes from the tobacco companies for more        than two decades, and developed a two-to-three packs habit for 45        years. Although he still struggles with smoking from time to time, he        has found help through the QUITPLAN Helpline.        -- Yvonne Kennedy: Persuaded by friends to try a cigarette at age 12, she        continued smoking for 16 years, even through the birth of five        children. She quit for six months during her last pregnancy when she        learned she was having twins -- but, as soon as they were born, she had        another cigarette in the hospital. Years later, when her own health        began to suffer, she found support through a QUITPLAN Center with        one-to-one counseling.        -- Mark Struthers: A pack-a-day smoker for 20 years, he decided to quit        one Sunday morning while sitting at his home computer, smoking a        cigarette and reading the list of lung cancer symptoms online. As a        career counselor who helps other people plan for the future, he found        reassurance talking to a QUITPLAN Center counselor who helped him map        out a plan to end his tobacco use.   

The photo essay features the photography of Doug Beasley, founder and director of St. Paul-based Vision Quest Photo Workshops. Known for photography that emphasizes vision and personal expression in everyday life, his work has been exhibited internationally and is widely published. For the ClearWay Minnesota photo essay, Beasley used black and white photography to portray each smoker's personality. "Photography gives us a reason to look deeper and explore what other people are about," said Beasley. "The photos are fleeting observations of three people and their connections to spirit and to others."

Each year in Minnesota, tobacco use causes more than 5,600 deaths and is estimated to cost $2 billion in direct health care costs. Minnesotans looking for help to stop smoking have a variety of options available to them through QUITPLAN Services, including:

       -- The QUITPLAN(R) Helpline -- The QUITPLAN Helpline offers telephone        counseling and free nicotine patches, lozenges or gum to eligible        callers.        -- -- The website offers free lifetime membership, helpful        quitting tools and activities and the chance to connect online with        thousands of others who have chosen to quit tobacco.        -- QUITPLAN(R) Centers -- QUITPLAN Centers provide in-person counseling in        a health care setting, as well as access to nicotine patches, lozenges        or gum.        -- Community-Tailored QUITPLAN(R) Centers -- A combination of stop-smoking        tools and culturally-tailored counseling for communities of color.        -- QUITPLAN(R) at Work -- The QUITPLAN at Work program offers free on-site        professional group counseling for eligible businesses with at least        eight employees ready to stop smoking.   

ClearWay Minnesota is an independent, non-profit organization that improves the health of Minnesotans by reducing the harm caused by tobacco. ClearWay Minnesota serves Minnesota through its grant-making program, QUITPLAN(R) stop-smoking services and statewide outreach activities. It is funded with 3 percent of the state's 1998 tobacco settlement. For more information on ClearWay Minnesota or QUITPLAN Services, call 952-767-1400 or visit

(1) Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, "Health Care Costs and Smoking - The Bottom Line," May 2005.

SOURCE ClearWay Minnesota

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